A Dublin Wonderland


Stevie has his audience dancing

WHEN IT comes to music royalty, there are very few that can touch the hem of Stevie Wonder. Simply put, he is one of popular music’s much admired greats, a songwriter that boasts a back catalogue of esteemed work – from his teenage glory days at Tamla Motown in the 1960s to his 1970s heyday of music experimentation.

Through his lyrics, too, Wonder explored politics, social issues and race-related concerns when it was neither fashionable nor profitable.

Something of a pioneer, then? You could say that.

Those giddy funk/soul/pop songs were much in evidence at the O2 last night, which was packed with old-time fans, sedate fans (reading a book before the show?), a politician or two (who’d have thought that Dermot Ahern was a Stevie Wonder enthusiast?), new-found converts, a few Irish rock/pop stars, and your plainly obsessive music fan, all of whom were keen to pay homage to a musician that had been a very long time coming to Ireland.

In a show that ranged from the classic [ Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Higher Ground] to the populist [ Lately], Wonder held the audience in the palm of his hand, and while it took the capacity crowd a while to get their, er, funk on, it wasn’t long before the seats were tipped up in favour of rapid shoe shuffling.

One of those breaking a sweat was 4FM presenter Dave Heffernan, who in a different life spent some time with Wonder when, in 1997, he directed the Classic Albumsdocumentary for Songs In The Key Of Life. “He’s a genuine, sincere person,” says Heffernan, “and the most musicianly musician I’ve ever met.”

Some might argue that Wonder’s salad days have turned from crisp to wilted, but last night Wonder delivered something of a genre-bending show, and a reminder that if there is anything that age cannot wither it is sheer quality and class.